Sunday, December 8, 2019

Vieques, Culebra Ferry Services Improve in Time for Holy Week

By on April 18, 2019

Governor Visits Ceiba Terminal to Ensure Public-Private Alliance Delivers More Efficient Passenger Experience

Editor’s note: The following was first published in the April 18-24, 2019, issue of Caribbean Business.

As thousands of tourists and locals are expected to visit the island-municipalities of Vieques and Culebra during Holy Week, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares went to the ferry terminal in Ceiba to make sure operations are running smoothly.

The recently revitalized ferry terminal facilities at Ceiba—through an interagency alliance—have received several improvements to guarantee a better and more efficient experience for passengers.

“Maritime transportation to the island-municipalities has experienced a deterioration in the service offered to users in the past decades, mainly due to a lack of improvements to infrastructure, lack of adequate maintenance on the vessels and equipment, poor customer service, in addition to the effect of the economic crisis,” the governor said.

Improvements to the terminal and its services include the launching of an online ticket office, as well as additional parking for some 900 vehicles, improvements in exterior and interior signage and designated areas for taxis and drivers in general.

In addition, improvements have been made to the waiting areas, while the electronic ticket and boarding validation process has been optimized.

Similarly, security plans have been coordinated with the mayors of Vieques and Culebra, as well as with municipal and state police, and Medical Emergency Corps.

The governor indicated that among the improvements he was able to see firsthand was the Maritime Transportation Authority’s (ATM by its Spanish initials) purchase and sales interaction at the ticketing offices.

Rosselló pointed out that “this is an example of how the private company and the government—through a public-private alliance—can offer the effective service that the residents of Vieques and Culebra deserve.”

The digital platform www.porferrry. com seeks to address three fundamental needs: provide real-time information, provide for online purchase of tickets and capturing essential data, which up to now was not available and are necessary to make the system more efficient and trustworthy.

ATM Director Mara Pérez, meanwhile, noted that “despite the challenges we have faced, and we continue to work on, we are extremely satisfied with the work that has been carried out at the terminal [in Ceiba] to improve the travelers’ experience this week, which from [past] experiences, we know will be a high-traffic [week].”

Pérez further noted that we “have taken into account all variables over which we have control.”

“Among them are making sure we have enough ferries and trips to handle the high volume of passengers expected [to travel on the ferries],” Pérez said. “We have five vessels operating and 44 daily trips between Vieques and Culebra and the Ceiba terminal.”

Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority (P3A) Executive Director Omar Marrero said, “We are working to achieve the transportation service that the residents of the island-municipalities need and deserve.

“The goal of the Rosselló administration is to achieve a public-private alliance that not only provides the service, but also carries out improvements [to] the operation and administration of the maritime transportation services.”

The P3A chief added that the improvements seen during the visit to the Ceiba terminal are a preamble to “what we have always visualized the P3 should be for this important transportation system….”

Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) Executive Director Carla Campos, meanwhile, said the PRTC is working hand-in-hand with the ATM to execute substantial changes in the structure and operation of the ferry services.

She added that signage has been optimized to better guide users while a number of amenities have been installed that are “vital to safeguard the experience of both the visitors and the residents.”

“In addition, the first phase of the porferry.com platform will provide us the opportunity to collect real data regarding the passengers’ profile, [the number] of trips…. During this Holy Week, the most important time of the year for tourism for the island-municipalities, the visitors and residents will enjoy the improved services,” Campos assured.

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